What is the Small Business Financial Exchange?

Smiling woman receiving a card as payment from a customerImage: Smiling woman receiving a card as payment from a customer

In a Nutshell

The Small Business Financial Exchange is a nonprofit association that gathers payment data. This data is then accessed by certain authorized agencies that use it to create business credit reports and credit scores for small businesses.
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The primary goal of the Small Business Financial Exchange, or SBFE, is to provide accurate and complete payment information on small businesses that can be used to reflect business credit.

As a small-business owner, you’re likely making all sorts of regular payments, whether for your business credit card or to vendors you work with. If one of your lenders is a member of the SBFE, it will report your payment information to the association.

Certain SBFE-certified vendors then use this information to piece together a credit history for your small business that includes credit reports and scores. If you’re making on-time payments, this data could help you build your business credit, which could lead to increased access to credit options.

Read on for a look at how the SBFE works.

What is the SBFE and exactly what does it do?

The SBFE is a nonprofit association serving small-business lenders, including banks, credit unions, credit card issuers and other lenders that offer loans or extend credit to small businesses.

The members provide your small business’s payment data to the SBFE, which then licenses the data to authorized SBFE-certified vendors, which include Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, Experian and LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

These vendors can use the data collected to create business credit reports and credit scores. Lenders can then use these credit products to assess the credit risk of small businesses. The SBFE itself isn’t a credit bureau and doesn’t provide business credit scores or credit reports.

What information does the SBFE collect on my business?

Members submit their small-business lending data to SBFE’s database. According to Equifax, an SBFE-certified vendor, payment information can be submitted for lines of credit, term loans, SBA loans, credit cards and leases.

This information is used by SBFE-certified vendors, with additional data drawn from other sources, to build business credit reports and credit scores for small businesses. If your lender is a member of the SBFE, your information is likely included in the SBFE database.

Why is the SBFE important?

If you apply for a line of credit or other business financing, the business credit reports that the lender checks to gauge how risky it is to lend to you could include some data that was originally drawn from the SBFE.

Your payment history data can ultimately affect your ability to obtain financing for your business. Knowing what information is reported to the SBFE is one step toward understanding and building your business credit.

How do small businesses interact with the SBFE?

Your small business isn’t likely to interact directly with the SBFE. Instead, you may indirectly interact with the association if you make payments to companies that are members of the SBFE.

SBFE members submit both negative and positive account information on businesses they lend to. If you’re not seeing payment data from a lender on your business credit reports, or you’re not sure if they’re an SBFE member, contact the lending company to ask if they report to the SBFE or the business credit bureaus.

How can I find SBFE members and vendors?

Any U.S. lender that offers loans to small businesses and is able to report their data to the SBFE can become an SBFE member. The SBFE has many members, including …

  • American Express
  • Capital One
  • PNC
  • Sun Trust
  • Wells Fargo

SBFE data are provided to the following certified SBFE vendors:

  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Learn more: How to check your business credit

Bottom line

The SBFE provides years of historical data from some of the largest business credit card companies and commercial lenders. And the association strives to provide the best outcomes for small businesses and lenders alike, by delivering accurate payment information.

For small-business owners, payment data can play an important part in establishing business credit. It’s good to know about the SBFE, because the information it collects on your business could be essential in helping your business grow.

About the author: Latoya Scott is a freelance writer and certified financial education instructor with an MBA from South University. She is the creator of LifeandaBudget.com and has been featured on HuffPo, Rockstar Finance and more.  Read more.